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A weekly column that heads in the opposite direction of your average pro football analysis.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observations from Giants Stadium, where the G-Men beat the Falcons 34-31 in overtime on Sunday.
1. The more passing yards Eli Manning accumulates, the more nervous the Giants offense makes me. Manning put up a career-high 384 passing yards against the Falcons and is averaging a career-best 245 yards per game this season. The problem is that he hasn't been able to sustain late drives to protect leads. With an old offensive line and running backs that keep getting nicked up, the Giants seem to be having a harder time wearing teams down as the season goes on. "You will see a team, like, for six minutes is running the ball and running the clock out. That continues to be something that we have to be better at," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
2. New York has turned into a team that is completely depending on Eli. When he struggles, the rest of the team seems deflated, and when he does well they get fired up.
3. If his goal was to finally reach a Super Bowl, Tony Gonzalez made a mistake going to Atlanta. Hopefully he wasn't advised to head down there because of the Falcons' success last season, which was much more a product of their light schedule than overall talent level. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback ... not the superstar ESPN made him out to be. Gonzalez proved on Sunday he's still one of the top five tight ends in football. Imagine if he had landed in New England.
4. The 2007 Patriots taught us a 16-0 regular season is irrelevant, and teams need to be playing their best in January. The Colts keep racking up wins with Houdini-like escapes, but still aren't a strong favorite in the AFC. Even with homefield advantage in the postseason, they'll have to play a lot better so they don't have to rely on late-game heroics. The Saints, on the other hand, are beating up on a lackluster NFC and should just try to stay healthy for their NFC Championship showdown against the Vikings.
5. What if Oakland had kept Jeff Garcia and started him over JaMarcus Russell? Even if Garcia was half washed up, he could have had the 3-7 Raiders hovering around .500 and made Tom Cable a Coach of the Year candidate.
6. Willis McGahee carrying the ball at the goal line was a cute experiment for the Ravens and worked well early on. After McGahee came up short late against the Colts on Sunday, isn't it time to abandon that and give the ball to Ray Rice, a back who looks like he was genetically engineered to carry the ball near the end zone?
7. Memo to Cowboys' Miles Austin: You're supposed to be one of the feel-good stories of the season. Stop celebrating first-down receptions like Usain Bolt crossing the finish line. Especially when your team scores one touchdown at home against Washington.
8. If concussions have a cumulative effect, I hope the Steelers make Ben Roethlisberger change his style. We always hear how bad Pittsburgh's offensive line is. Do we know for sure Pittsburgh's offense wouldn't be different if Big Ben did his best Peyton Manning impression and got rid of the ball quickly?
9. Has there ever been a lamer 6-4 team than the Jaguars? They have 3-point victories over St. Louis, Kansas City and Buffalo. Those barely counts as wins. With trips to San Francisco, New England and Cleveland, and home games against Houston, Miami and Indy, Jacksonville won't get the four wins it needs to reach the postseason.
10. With six weeks to play, six of eight divisions are basically decided. Only the AFC North and NFC East have bona fide races. Late December is going to be boring -- Major League Baseball in September boring. Random bowl game in the BCS era boring. College Basketball before March boring. You get the point. If only the Browns and Lions could play every week to entertain us.